Sunday, December 31, 2006

Season's First Skiers Through the Banadad

This winter season's first skiers to complete the entire 31-kilometer Banadad Ski Trail were Jeffrey Gedrose, his wife and two teenage children. After spending the night of December 27 at the Tall Pines Yurt the skier began at the trail's east end and traveled to the Croft Yurt were they spent their second night. The next day they skier out to the west end trailhead where their car was waiting.

Even with the marginal snow conditions all but about nine kilometers of the trail's 31 kilometers was tracked and in fairly good condition. The untracked nine-kilometer section was on the eastern end of the trail where Boundary Country Trekking's maintenance crews had just competed work on widening a portion of the trail.

The Gedroses' are from Springfield Illinois.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gunflint Trail Losses Long-time Resorter

Jerry Parsons of Hungry Jack Lodge passed away at the lodge on Christmas Eve. He had been battling Parkinson Disease for many years. Hungry Jack Lodge was purchase by Jerry in 1972. With his passing the trail losses truely a colorful character and he will be missed by the Gunflint community.

Jerry "retired" a few years ago but he remained at the lodge. While the day-to-day operation of the business was turned-over to his son Forrest at that time, Jerry was always around to lend a hand. You can view a history of Hungry Jack Lodge written by Jerry years ago by clicking on Lodge History.

See Death Notice in Duluth News Tribune, December 28, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

City Council Moves to Oppose State's Sale of Hillside Forties

WTIP Grand Marais- The fact that a proposed land exchange between the DNR and Larry Dewester was dropped earlier this week did not stop the Grand Marais city council from visiting the issue at their meeting on Wednesday December 13th. With the proposed land exchange off the table the issue now appears to be the fate of two 40 acre parcels of land situated just north of Grand Marais on the hill side overlooking town. The land is currently used for recreation and is owned by the state. These two 40 acre parcels have been put on a list of state owned property to be sold under a program started by Governor Tim Pawlenty. The city council unanimously passed a resolution to oppose not only the land exchange but also the sale of either of the 40 acre parcels.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Land Exchange Withdrawn as New Concern is Raised

Doug Rowlett, DNR Area Supervisor, announced, following the Cook County Board's unanimous vote in opposition of the proposed Land Exchange between the Minnesota DNR and Larry DeWester,that DeWester has withdrawn his request for the exchange. Rowlett went on to state that, "no further actions will be taken to purse this exchange."

The County Board's rejection of the proposed exchange came as a "packed house" of area residents expressed their opposition. Nancy Seaton, chairman of the Gunflint Scenic Byways committee in expressing her committee's opposition stated that while both a diamond and a bucket of coal are made out of carbon they are not equal and that similarly trading the Hovland Land for the Grand Marais land is not an equal trade, and she hoped the Country Board would reject this exchange.

Grand Marais resident Betsy Bowen express the sentiment of those at the meeting that it would be a fine idea for the DNR to acquire the remote land in the Hovland area as proposed in the exchange. However the aesthetic and recreational values of the hillside overlooking Grand Marais is to important to the City and the Gunflint Trail to allow these values to be sacrificed to development. Others at the meeting expressed concern that the city is already having water run-off problems caused by the current development on the hillside above the city. Development of the size proposed by this exchange would only serve to acerbate this problem.

In another twist on the disposition of the exchange land, Jim Raml, of Seagull Lake, announced at the Board meeting that the DNR is also considering selling a portion of the land that was to be included in the exchange. When asked, Rowlett confirmed that this was true. The DNR has two forties from the area listed as land the state is proposing to offer for sale if the proposed land exchange does not go through.

In response to this new revelation, members of the Country Board, including Jim Johnson and Bob Fenwick, express the Board's interest that the DNR work with the County and the city of Grand Marais before any action is taken in the selling any of the DNR's land within the exchange area. Both stated that the County would likely be interested in purchasing this land and using it to benefit the residents of the country. County Commissioner Bruce Martinson suggested that the DNR along with the city and other stakeholders should develop a comprehensive plan for the area above the city just as the DNR has done for the Cascade and Temperance River areas. Rowlett agreed it would work with the Country, city and all interested parties before any further actions were taken on the disposition of any property within this important hillside area.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

DNR considers land exchange-Hovland for Grand Marais

Rhonda Silence- Cook County Star, December 11, 2006

Cook County Land Commissioner Ted Mershon has been notified that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering a land exchange with a private landowner, potentially exchanging approximately 300 acres of state land near the city of Grand Marais for 440 acres in the Hovland area. The matter will be introduced and explained in detail at the Tuesday, December 12 county board meeting.
According to a DNR Area Forest Supervisor Doug Rowlett of Two Harbors, Larry DeWester contacted the DNR about a possible land exchange. DeWester owns 440 acres in Hovland, off of the Jackson Lake and Andy Lake Forest Roads in Township 63N, Range 4E, Sections 15, 21, and 22. The land is surrounded by the Grand Portage State Forest and federal land and much of it has been logged. The land is zoned FAR-1, which requires 20 acre sites for development. It is a remote area of the county, far from maintained roads and other infrastructure.
The state land being considered for the trade is near the city of Grand Marais, in Township 61N, Range 1E, Section 18. The approximately 300 acres in the Pat Bayle State Forest have two different zoning classifications, R-1, which allows 2-acre sites and FAR-3, which allows 5-acre sites for development. A portion of the land abuts the Sawtooth Mountain property owned by Cook County and the city of Grand Marais, which has been the focus of community discussion for many years. The Cook County - Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) is considering taking on the role of developer for that property. The EDA board has stated it will take into consideration the work done by two citizen groups, the Old Ski Hill Consensus Committee and the Sawtooth Bluff Committee.The remainder of the land, 227-acres, is along the new Gunflint Trail.
A portion is above the Gunflint Trail on the hillside overlooking Grand Marais and the remainder is on the lower side of the Gunflint Trail, above the EDA's proposed residential development and the Cedar Grove Business Park. The land also abuts the Pincushion Mountain Ski Area. It is also above the 33-acre Blackwell Addition, which School District 166 has agreed to sell to Anna Hamilton of Grand Marais. Hamilton plans to create a residential development on the site.
Land Commissioner Mershon said he would be asking the county board for feedback on the land exchange proposal because "the land is so similar to Section 17, the 'old ski hill' area, which most people want to see left alone."The county board's comments will be passed along to the DNR North Shore Field Team in Two Harbors to review at a December 14 meeting in Two Harbors. Reached by phone, Rowlett stressed that this is just the beginning of the process, that the DNR has made no commitment to make the land exchange. He said the North Shore group is an interdisciplinary team consisting of representatives from forestry, wildlife, fisheries, environmental services, engineering and hydrology. The team has several options. If the team agrees that the land exchange is not in the best interest of the DNR, it could deny the request outright. If the team agrees that the exchange would benefit the DNR, the matter is sent on for review by a regional team in Grand Rapids, then a state review team. And, if the team members cannot reach a consensus on how to proceed, the request is forwarded to the regional team.If the proposal is approved by those entities, an appraisal of the land is done.

Mershon and Rowlett both said the property exchanged must be of equal value, which is why there is a disparity of acreage. "There are fewer acres in the Grand Marais property, but it may be worth more since it has highway access," said Rowlett. If the appraisal finds that the properties have reasonably equivalent values, the exchange process can continue and a public hearing will be held. Rowlett said, "Typically these hearings are held in St. Paul. Most of these land exchanges go through without any ruffle. But, in some situations the hearings could be held locally. That would probably be the case with this."

However, members of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway would like to stop the land exchange before it progresses that far. Members were quick to voice opposition, noting that the state land near the city encompasses over a mile of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway. The Byway group also points out that the land is primarily used recreationally, with the North Shore State Snowmobile Trail and Superior Hiking Trail passing through the property.Scenic Byways member Jim Raml said that the exchange was not equitable. "They are trading 400 acres that has already been logged for some of the most beautiful real estate in the county. Yes, it's important to trade non-developable land for land that can be developed, but there are extenuating circumstances here. I don't think any of this land on the hillside is developable. Plus, this is 300 acres that every one sees from town; it's the first section of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway." Rowlett reiterated that no decision had been made yet. "We're really just in the beginning stages. We haven't made a commitment one way or the other."Citizens wishing to give comments on the proposed land exchange to the Cook County Commissioners may attend the county board meeting on December 12. The matter is scheduled for discussion at 9:00 a.m. The land exchange is also scheduled to be discussed at the Wednesday, December 13 Grand Marais city council meeting, which begins at 4:30 p.m. City Administrator Mike Roth noted the short timeline for comments and said, "I'm not sure what input the council will be able to provide-we may just ask for more time to consider this."

Although the DNR is not conducting a formal comment period at this time, anyone wishing to comment to the Area Forester may send comments via e-mail to Doug Rowlett at or call (218) 834-6604.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Opposition to DeWester-DNR Land Exchange Growing

The Grand Marais Planning and Zoning Committee, let by chairman Hal Greenwood, met on December 6 voted to join the growing chores of opposition to the proposed land exchange along the Gunflint Scenic Byways and overlooking the city. Previously the North Superior Ski and Run Club, the Superior Hiking Trail Association and most of the residents living near the proposed land exchange have expressed their opposition.

The Cook County Board will consider the proposed exchange at 9:00 am Tuesday, December 12 in the Council Chambers. The proposed exchange is on the Grand Marais City Council's agenda at 4:30 pm the next day. All those with concerns on this issue are urged to attend these meetings.

Then DNR’s North Shore Field Team will discuss the issue at its December 14th meeting in Two Harbors at which time it will review local governmental comments and make a decision on whether to proceed with the proposal by sending it on up to the Regional Office. While the December 14th meeting is not public one may send comments for consideration to the Two Harbors Area DNR supervisor at .

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Proposed Land Exchange Along Gunflint Trail On Hillside Overlooking Grand Marais

The Minnesota DNR is proposing to trade roughly 320 acres of public recreation land along the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway on the hillside above Grand Marais. The land would be traded to a Mr. Larry Dewester for about 400 acres of mostly cutover lands he owns in a remote area north of Hovland.

The lands to be traded by the DNR stretch from the "old ski hill" on the west to the Pincushion Mountain overlook and ski trail system on the east. The land also wraps around the northern portion of the Cedar Grove Business Park as well as encompassing over a mile of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway.

Currently, these lands are primarily used recreationally with the North Shore State Trail and Superior Hiking Trail either abutting or passing directly through them.
Sometime during the last week of November the Cook County Assessor and City of Grand Marais Administrator were notified of the proposal by the Two Harbors Area office of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. At that time the state agency requested that the two local governmental bodies provide comment by December 8th for consideration by its North Shore Field Team internal review of the proposal to be held on Thursday December 14 in the Two Harbors area office.

However, neither local agency will meet in that short time frame, and thus, both the city and the county will discuss the proposal at their next scheduled meetings. The city planning and zoning board will discuss the proposal at 4:30 PM on Wednesday December 6. The Cook County Board of Commissioners will take the matter up at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday December 12. The Grand Marais City Council will visit the issue at 4:30 PM on Wednesday December 13.

Anyone wanting to comment on this proposed land trade should either contact their local representatives or attend these meetings.

The DNR’s North Shore Field Team will discuss the issue at its December 14th meeting in Two Harbors at which time it will review local governmental comments and make a decision on whether to proceed with the proposal by sending it on up to the Regional Office. While the December 14th meeting is not public one may send comments for consideration to the Two Harbors Area DNR supervisor at

Article by Jim Raml, Seagull Lake, Gunflint Trail

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lodge to Lodge Skiing Featured in Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine

Boundary Country Trekking's Lodge to Lodge Ski programs appears as a featured article in the November issue of Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. The article entitled, "All Play and No Work," by Greg Breining describes both the Gunflint Nordic Trails' and Northshore Mountain Trails' Lodge to Lodge Ski programs operated by Boundary Country.

According to Barbara Young, Lodge to Lodge trip coordinator, "If you enjoy skiing and you want to see as many of the great ski trails and lodges we have in northeast Minnesota, Skiing Lodge to Lodge is the way to go!"